Book Info: Genre: Dark Fantasy Reading Level: Adult
Disclosure: I received a free ARC in ebook format from Journalstone via the LibraryThing Early Rev...moreBook Info: Genre: Dark Fantasy Reading Level: Adult
Disclosure: I received a free ARC in ebook format from Journalstone via the LibraryThing Early Reviewer’s giveaway in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: An evil force is at work at the hospital where Nathan is recovering from injuries he received at the hands of his Mom’s abusive ex-boyfriend. Demonic-looking men with pale faces and glowing eyes lurk in the shadows and it appears that someone is harvesting skin and organs from living donors against their will.
In his dreams, Nathan can see these demons in their true form – evil creatures who feed on the fear and hatred they help create in their victims. Nathan’s only ally is the doctor who cares for him. Bound together by their common legacy, they alone seem to share the ability to see the demons for what they are.
Together they must find a way to stop these creatures before their own loved ones become the next victims and the demons destroy them-- and much more.
My Thoughts: I’m not a huge fan of “horror novels that feature children”; they’re right up there with “horror novels about animals acting like... umm, animals”. However, this one was quite engaging overall, and actually ended up being more dark fantasy than horror. The sections with Nathan sort of rubbed me raw, because I’m just not that excited to read about things from a young child’s point of view, but at the same time, I felt badly for the little guy. And as a result, I was 100 percent behind the monsters – want to kill abusive jerks painfully and slowly? I’m right behind that, gotta say. Of course, they don’t stop there, and that’s where the trouble starts.
There are a lot of point-of-view shifts in the book, but they’re pretty easily followed, so it doesn’t feel like head hopping. We get the most character development from Nathan and Jason, with a bit from Jenny, while Sherry feels mostly like a filler character. I feel like readers would have had a stronger impact from Steve and Jazz from outside their heads, but that’s just me; I didn’t really feel like their internal dialogue did much for the story other than make them look unsympathetic.
Overall, those who enjoy dark fantasy should enjoy this story. I wouldn’t really define it as horror due to the ending, but those who enjoy lighter horror fare should probably enjoy this story as well. Hard-core horror fans might feel cheated by how it all ends up. If you have a problem with abusive jerks, you will probably like what happens in this book. So, overall, I think there are a lot of people who will enjoy this story. Check it out.(less)
Book Info: Genre: Dark Urban Fantasy/Religious Theme Reading Level: Adult
Disclosure: I received an ebook copy from Journalstone via the LibraryThing...moreBook Info: Genre: Dark Urban Fantasy/Religious Theme Reading Level: Adult
Disclosure: I received an ebook copy from Journalstone via the LibraryThing Early Reviewer’s Giveaway in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: In a tiny community on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, Brother Placidus finds little Amanda LeFleur sacrificed below a crucifix, in the attic of The Brothers of the Holy Cross. It is not the first body he’s found there.
Assigned to the investigation is detective Peter Toche whose last case was that of a murdered child, a child that has been haunting his dreams, forcing him to face his worst fears and the evil that has targeted his town.
As additional victims are discovered, Tristan St. Germain, a mysterious man who was rescued by a parish priest from the waters near his home, may hold the key to the safety of all mankind.
Little Amanda was only the beginning...
My Thoughts: Contrition is all about redemption, and a book with strong Catholic themes. I believe those who are looking for darker fiction in the Christian category will particularly enjoy this book; I found it a bit preachy at times, but was unable to deny the fact that it is a strong story, well-written, with outstanding character development and plot flow.
The major theme in the book is about seeking not only forgiveness, but also finding a way to redeem oneself from former sins and failures – expressing contrition for those sins and failures. While I cannot comprehend a loving, forgiving God that would subsequently damn people to eternal torment, the structural basis of the story is sound and follows internal logic. In other words, if you have these beliefs, you will find the story particularly satisfying and enjoyable. Recommended for Christians, particularly those of the Catholic faith, who are looking for a dark fantasy, or those for whom the occasional preachiness will not detract from an engaging dark-fantasy read.(less)
Book Info: Genre: Literary Fiction Reading Level: Adult
Disclosure: I received a free ebook copy of this novel from the author through the LibraryThin...moreBook Info: Genre: Literary Fiction Reading Level: Adult
Disclosure: I received a free ebook copy of this novel from the author through the LibraryThing Member Giveaway program in exchange for an honest review. I later received an offer for it through NetGalley, which I accepted.
Synopsis: Down-and-out Atlanta writer Charlie Sherman has no idea what madness awaits him when a mysterious stranger convinces him to finish a dead man's book about a horrific crime that's gone unpunished for decades. What Charlie inherits is an unwieldy manuscript about the mob-driven expulsion of more than 1,000 blacks from Forsyth County, Georgia in 1912. During the course of his work, Charlie uncovers a terrible secret involving a Forsyth County land grab. Due to its proximity to Atlanta, the stolen farm is now worth $20 million-and a sale is pending. When he finds the land's rightful owner, Charlie becomes convinced he's been chosen by a Higher Power to wreak justice and vengeance on those who profit from evil. And then things go horribly wrong.
Historical Background: Forsyth County, famous as the birthplace of Hee-Haw's Junior Samples, has existed as an intentionally all-white community bordering the black Mecca of Atlanta since 1912, following one of the 20th century's most violent, racist outrages – including lynching, nightriding, and arson. In 1987, the sleepy community gained notoriety when a small march, led by civil rights firebrand Hosea Williams, was broken up by rock- and bottle-throwing Klansmen, neo-Nazis, and their sympathizers. Bloody but unbowed, Williams returned the next week with 25,000 followers in one of largest civil-rights marches in history. There was talk of reparations. Oprah came. Protests and counter-protests yielded a landmark Supreme Court case on free speech. But most importantly, white people flocked to Forsyth. It became the fastest- growing county in the nation, the richest one in Georgia, and one of the twenty wealthiest in the U.S.
My Thoughts: I was particularly interested in reading this book since all this happened to close to where I live (within about an hour’s drive if the traffic cooperates). While it took place well before I ever arrived on the scene, the attitude of the people around here is very similar, I’m guessing.
I was surprised by the amount of humor put into this book. While it is focused on issues of discrimination and the consequences thereof, as well as the various travails through which Charlie Sherman must pass, it also pokes sly fun at both the conservative and liberal ideals, in a way. Charlie’s thoughts, for instance, about how jumping off a highway overpass is the most “socially irresponsible” way to commit suicide made me laugh. Other comments that amused me included “courthouse arson is a proud Forsyth county tradition,” and one about home ownership being a sure sign of uppitiness in the eyes of the racist members of the community. Then, as a result of all non-whites being driven out of Forsyth County in 1912, it is stated: By 1913, the true nature and scope of Forsyth’s tragedy had become brutally clear. White women, some of them from the finest families, were forced to do their own cooking and cleaning. Bet they never thought about that result! But seriously, the one thing that Grant does not poke fun at is the deadly serious nature of the brutal racism that swept through this area at that time. The descriptions and explanations are sometimes quite brutal, and those with a sensitive nature might want to think strongly about this before they read this book, but enough humor is interspersed into it to keep it bearable.
One thing that confused me is a comment about the trip between Gainseville and Atlanta being 53 miles of mountain roads... there is no mountain between Gainseville and Atlanta, so I’m not sure how there could be mountain roads. Perhaps the author meant country roads. Today, the trip between Gainesville and Atlanta is a fairly straight shot, but I can see where the roads probably were windy before the highway currently there was built. Another thing that made me do some research is the mention of “frantic telephone calls” amongst several people in 1912; I can’t find any evidence to back up my suspicion, but I don’t think telephones were very widespread yet in 1912, so I’m not sure how realistic this situation is.
One of my favorite things about this book is the characters. Grant perfectly caught the complexity of the people of Georgia. Georgia has a really crazy-quilt population – you have the back-country, small-town folks who tend to be very suspicious of outsiders, and old-school racist, having not been taught any differently; and then you have the big city folks, in Atlanta and Athens, especially, that are very liberal. These groups often clash, as can be expected, carrying on such acrimoniously different opinions about how things should be. Always being the sort to get into the middle of things, I think there are good points and bad points to both sides of the argument, and that Truth lies somewhere in the middle. Grant obviously has spent a great deal of time researching the people of this great state, and I feel he did a really good job of bringing it all the life. The characters are all wonderfully developed, unique, and grow (most of them) through the course of the book.
All-in-all, I can highly recommend this excellent story. The book is very long, with multiple points that feel like a denouement, but bear with it – the ending is well worth the trip and literally gave me goosebumps. A very satisfying story, a superbly gratifying read, and one you really don’t want to miss.(less)
My Thoughts: I loved Matt Rose. There, I said it: I loved Matt Rose! He is my favorite type of villain: gleefully, unrepentantly Evil (yes, with a capital E), and with a terrific sense of humor about the whole thing. I mean, obviously I wouldn’t go all Amanda on him – that’s just gross – but to read about in a book? This is the type of villain I most enjoy.
Watching Dave grow from wishy-washy telemarketing temp into someone trying, somewhat ineptly, to battle the forces of evil was a lot of fun. Not to mention that Ryan got the telemarketing culture spot-on – in fact, he struck a bit close to the bone in some places, as anyone who has spent any amount of time working in telemarketing will see when they read this book. I spent a lot of time laughing, of course – especially at the description of the movie Flying Death, with Aplomb and the other things that Ryan takes to ridiculously hilarious lengths in this book – but there were a few pretty horrific scenes towards the end, so I think overall I would put this into the dark fantasy with humor genre; it’s not quite horror.
Shannon Ryan has done a remarkable job on this book, and I really hope to see many more books in the future coming from his moniker. Kudos, Mr. Ryan – keep writing! You’ve just gained a new fan.
Disclosure: I received a free ebook copy of this book through the LibraryThing Members Giveaway program in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: Have you ever wondered if your boss is evil?
David Graves is having a bad life. A bill collector is threatening him with grievous bodily harm. His girlfriend thinks he's an incompetent loser. His human resources manager, a creature of nightmare, is sexually harassing him. And when he finally meets a girl he likes, she seems more interested in rebuilding engines and committing random acts of violence.
Still, David thinks he is doing all right – until he discovers his bosses are Satanists and his employment contract dooms him to an eternity of telemarketing and damnation...
Minion of Evil is frightfully accurate portrayal of identity theft, computer hacking, wrench wenches, monomaniacal supervisors, and what really goes on behind closed doors in customer service.(less)
Book Info: Genre: Dark Science Fantasy Reading Level: Adult Ebook available at Journalstone or Amazon; Paperback or Hardcover copy is available as of...moreBook Info: Genre: Dark Science Fantasy Reading Level: Adult Ebook available at Journalstone or Amazon; Paperback or Hardcover copy is available as of today, 7/13/12 on Amazon
Disclosure: I received a free eBook ARC from LibraryThing in exchange for an honest review. To make things even better, I just received a free paperback uncorrected proof from Journalstone in a promotion! This will not, of course, affect my opinion of the book, but it is awesome!
Synopsis: In the deepest reaches of space, on a ship that no longer exists, six travelers stare into the abyss . . . and the abyss stares back.
Man has finally mastered the art of space travel and in a few hours passengers can travel light years across the galaxy. But, there's a catch—the traveler must be asleep for the journey, and with sleep come the dreams. Only the sleeper can know what his dream entails, for each is tailored to his own mind, built from his fears, his secrets, his past . . . and sometimes his future.
That the dreams occasionally drive men mad is but the price of technological advance. But when a transport on a routine mission comes upon an abandoned ship, missing for more than a decade, six travelers—each with something to hide—discover that perhaps the dreams are more than just figments of their imagination. Indeed, they may be a window to a reality beyond their own where shadow has substance and the darkness is a thing unto itself, truly worthy of fear.
My Thoughts: Brett J. Talley burst onto the scene last year with his Bram Stoker finalist, Lovecraftian debut, That Which Should not Be, which I absolutely loved, and so did many others. To say I was anticipating this book would be seriously understating the excitement I’ve felt while anticipating the chance to finally read it.
One thing Talley does really well is to create that form of creeping suspense, that feeling that something …. terrible and terrifying waits just right around that corner up ahead. At first this is done subtly, with minor things happening around the characters that could just be their own paranoia, their imagination, but then it starts to ramp up and pretty soon the reader is hanging on the edge of their seat and ready to jump if there is an unexpected sound in the house.
I had initially figured this to be a form of horror/science fiction blend, but after finishing the book, I don’t think I could define it as horror, although it does have some horrific elements, and is very Lovecraftian. No, I have changed my definition to dark science-fantasy, and I think once you read this book you will agree this is fitting. Highly recommended for fans of Cthulhian/Lovecraftian fiction, for fans of the darker prose, for those who enjoy an element of fantasy in their science fiction. This is a really well-written book, and I think that you absolutely cannot go wrong in grabbing a copy to read.(less)
Book Info: Genre: Fantasy Reading Level: Middle Grade, or Young Adult, or Adult—see comments Recommended for: people missing Harry Potter or other magic...moreBook Info: Genre: Fantasy Reading Level: Middle Grade, or Young Adult, or Adult—see comments Recommended for: people missing Harry Potter or other magical MG fantasies and are able and willing to look past the errors Book Available: Please note: this book is only available at Smashwords to my knowledge, linked here where formatting allowed. To view links and other formatting, please visit my blog, Now is Gone. Trigger Warnings: bullying, murder, attempted assault, hints of sexual slavery and rape, attempts to destroy a neighborhood for profit, maybe kidnapping
My Thoughts: I've had this book sitting waiting for a review for about a year and a half. To my intense amazement, when I went looking, I saw that no one else had it on their shelves on Goodreads, it didn't even exist on Shelfari or Amazon, no one had reviewed it on Smashwords (which is the only site on which it is available to buy as far as I can tell) and there are only four short reviews on LibraryThing, which is where I originally won a copy! This astonishes me, as I've never seen something like this before. It's really a pity, because it's a quite decent story featuring an almost-eleven-year-old girl with a vivid imagination.
There are a few formatting problems early on, in the several pages of quotes from other books about the wind that begin the book, where the font changes size and is almost too small to read at times, but once I was into the actual book that ended, and it's easy enough to change the font size on my Nook to see the smaller areas, so all it did was slow me down a little.
I will say that while this is a decent story, a good content and line editing would really make it shine. There aren't a lot of spelling or grammar errors (a few, like “heal” for “heel” are fairly endemic, though), but it could still use some cleaning up. For instance, at one point Yonni talks to one of her friends, and walks away. Rather than remaining in Yonni's head, like we have all the way so far, suddenly we're in her friend's head for a paragraph. There are also a lot of tense shifts from present to past to a couple future tenses that will probably drive some readers nuts. Also, it is repeatedly said throughout the book that Yonni is 10, but also that she is in 6th grade, which is not possible unless she was skipped ahead a year. Otherwise the law requires that a child be at least 11 before they are in the 6th grade, or have their 11th birthday within a certain period of time after starting 6th grade.
Horses appear throughout the book in Yonni's dreams.
While it seems I have a lot of criticisms, I really did love this story and this book. There is mention of a sequel, called Yonnie Hale and the South Wind, but I do not know if this sequel actually exists. If it does, I would love to read it. However, I would strongly encourage the author to have this book further edited. What is a very enjoyable and fun read could be something truly amazing with just a little more polishing. There was a chapter toward the back where I literally cheered aloud, and then two of my favorite series were mentioned: Harry Potter and the Dark is Rising, which also feature (at least initially) 10-year-old going on 11 characters.
The reading level on this one is a little hard to assign. The main bulk of the story is about Yonnie Hale, who is 10 through most of the book, which would be middle grade (MG). However, a lot of the issues deal with reaching maturity and taking control of your own destiny, so that leads me to think that it might be better for Young Adult (YA) readers. But then there are the chapters with the mayor, in which we receive an in depth look at a truly despicable character doing truly despicable things, some of which are very adult in nature. So that leaves me thinking this is a very adult book in many ways. I would recommend that any consideration for younger readers be filtered through their maturity level. While I might have had trouble with this one when I was 10 myself, I think by 12 I would have been fine with it, while other people I know might not have been able to really understand some of the themes until they were much older.
A lot of the magical ideas in this are particularly interesting. I love how the author has worked in so many different cultures. If only it were better edited I would be willing to recommend this wholesale to almost anyone, but as it is, too many people I know would not be able to see past some of the issues and just enjoy this wonderful, excellent story. It's been a year and a half since I received this book and in this time not a single person has reviewed it on Goodreads or Smashwords, and only four on LibraryThing. I had to physically add it to Shelfari myself. In some ways this is very good, as that means there has not been any negative attention put on it yet. I would recommend that the author take the time to have this gone over professionally and then re-release it on a wider market. I truly think that with just a little more work this could be a major hit among the crowd that has been missing Harry Potter. I hope the author will see this review and take this advice to heart, and also take the same steps to polish the next book in this series. This has already been an extraordinarily long review, but it's an extraordinary book, and I can only hope that my passion for it will help in some small way to reach a larger audience. Meanwhile, if you're interested, go to Smashwords, grab your own copy, look past the few problems and see the bigger picture, because I think this one is a real winner. I can't give it the full 5 stars, no matter how much I want to, because of the flaws, but I am willing to give it 4 just on its overall merits. Check it out. It's truly magical.
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book through the LibraryThing Members' Giveaway program in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Synopsis: She was warned. She tried to avoid it. But Yonni Hale had to learn that life is not safe, not even in her small Kansas hometown of Pratt. After having a vision, strange horse-women begin haunting her dreams, calling her to obey the will of the Cosmic Wind. Balancing good and evil, the Cosmic Wind recruits Yonni to stand against greedy men who desire nothing but power and money, no matter who they harm in the process. When her friends' homes are in danger because of the greedy mayor's real estate scam, Yonni must use her abilities to control the wind to help her friends save their homes. In the process, though, she exposes her family to danger, and must decide what is more important: justice or her family. (less)
Book Info: Genre: Fantasy/Wiccan-based Reading Level: This one is difficult to define, and if younger readers are interested, they should know they wi...moreBook Info: Genre: Fantasy/Wiccan-based Reading Level: This one is difficult to define, and if younger readers are interested, they should know they will need a dictionary nearby and that there is some profanity and obscenity and quite a lot of violence. I would say readers as young as 12 might enjoy it if these things are understood, yet adults will also find a lot to enjoy.
Disclosure: I received a free ebook copy (via Smashwords) through the LibraryThing Members Giveaways in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: Trapped as a mortal in a dimension where human dreams become reality, Alice Towers endures a journey of unmerciful persecution and excruciating self-discovery. Guided by an extraordinary realm creature named Shammerwack, she must find Magog; a boy imprisoned for over three centuries who holds the key to her release.
Unaware that her incarceration heralds the dawn of the Final Prophecy; Armageddon, Alice is pursued by an ancient being that plagues humanity with relentless nightmares, until the world hovers on the brink of insanity and self-annihilation.
Alice’s only earthbound ally, Leona, is also an antediluvian soul who has lived and reincarnated as a human for thousands of years. As one of the Ancient Coven and practitioner of the old knowledge, Leona summons shadows to protect Alice’s slumbering body and Magog’s timeworn effigy. But Leona’s maleficent sister, Lillian, another of the ancients, is equally as determined to capture Alice; the vessel by which the Demon Lord of the Realms intends to escape the confines of his nebulous world.
A bloody battle ensues on Earth as Lillian’s underworld demons and Leona’s defensive forces tear lives apart, whilst an increasingly insane world creeps inexorably closer to the Final Prophecy.
My Thoughts: This is book one in The Ancient Knowledge trilogy, and is written as a tribute to Alice in Wonderland. The second book is to be called The Final Prophecy; I can’t find anything for sure, but it sounds like it might be coming out this fall or winter. I should mention here that I have never read Alice in Wonderland, although the memes are well known, so I cannot really comment on parallels between the stories. However, it does not follow the same storyline and it is not as nonsensical/silly as the book to which it pays tribute, so do not go into this book expecting an homage – it is merely a tribute.
I should point out that this book uses a lot of words for which the average person will require a dictionary. I have a large vocabulary, built up over almost four decades of obsessive reading, but even I had to look up a number of the words. I know there are likely people for whom this will be a problem, but I would actively encourage readers to just keep a dictionary (preferably unabridged) handy – expanding your vocabulary is important, and reading is one of the finest ways to do so.
I was most impressed with the positive treatment of Wicca, in a very realistic sense. I don’t mean that most Wiccans can actually do the sorts of magic that Leona does, but I mean realistic in the sense that is correctly expands upon the beliefs in the circle of life and balance that is the standard structure of the Wiccan ideology. The book also makes clear that power and magic are neither good nor evil – they simply are. The only law in Wiccan is given: Do as thou wilt an it harm none.
I was surprised at one point by the mention of a Funnel web spider being aggressive, and linked to a Black Widow; the reason being that Funnel Weavers (which I assume are the same thing) are ubiquitous here. We have a large number living here in the duplex, and I have never thought them to be particularly aggressive – large, yes, they can become quite large! I saw one that I thought was a tarantula at first glance. But they don’t seem any more aggressive than any other house spider, and I’ve never – to my knowledge – been bitten by one. They’re quite beneficial, actually, which is why I encourage them in the house. Edit: As it turns out a Funnel web spider is an Australian spider that is indeed both aggressive and poisonous, not at all like the harmless Funnel Weavers we have here in the States.
Many reviewers have stated that this is an epic fantasy, and I agree with that. My Nook version is over 400 pages, and the story is intricate but easily followed. While I enjoyed the story, it did not absorb me like a story I truly love does, so I have rated it at 4 stars. The editing is good – there are some errors, but they are not rife, and with the high-level vocabulary used, it could not have been easy to edit. I know that many fans of fantasy will enjoy this book.(less)
Disclosure: I received a free ebook ARC from the Early Reviewer’s program at LibraryThing in exchange f...moreBook Info: Genre: Fantasy Reading Level: Adult
Disclosure: I received a free ebook ARC from the Early Reviewer’s program at LibraryThing in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: A tale of exile, rebellion, fidelity, and fire.
The demon Dismay’s murderous nature has earned him the ire of his beloved wife, who has sent him away in a fit of temper. In his exile he ventures south into the land of Lutawa, drawn there by the prayers of abused and desperate women who beg him to grant them vengeance against the men who cruelly rule their lives—and Dismay is pleased to do it.
Still, murder is hard and dirty work.
When an avid desire for a bath brings him to a fine Lutawan estate, he meets two beautiful young women. Ui and Eleanor are well-acquainted with the whispered tales of the demon Dismay, who slays men but never women, and they’re delighted to entertain their fearsome guest, but they warn him to beware.
Lutawa is ruled by an immortal king, who punishes treason with the terrible weapon of infernal fire. Believing this king to be the same cruel deity known in the north as Hepen the Watcher, Dismay resolves to kill him—and accidentally draws Ui and Eleanor into his schemes.
Those who help Dismay risk a fiery death, those who hinder him risk the demon’s bloody retribution, while Dismay, still yearning for his wife’s forgiveness, discovers that love can be as hazardous as the wrath of Hepen the Watcher.
My Thoughts: This is book 2 in Tales of the Puzzle Lands. I was assured I could read it without having read the first book in the series. Since the first book looked like romance, I decided to accept that ruling and go for it. However, after reading this book, now I’ve decided that maybe I want to read the first one after all... It probably would have helped if I had remembered that I do have the book and could have read it first. Oh, well...
I like Dismay – a lot. I especially like that he was busy killing the disgusting, misogynistic Lutwanas. I had hoped – like I always hope – for an interesting antagonist, hoping that the sheriff would be at least an honorable man caught in bad circumstances, not knowing any better, etc. Instead he was just as bad as most of the others. A terrible person. For all the talk of him, there is very little actual interaction with Hepen the Watcher, so no way to tell much about him, other than that he is a misogynist of the worst type.
Overall, I liked the book well enough – and I should say I liked it enough to want to immediately read the first one, so most fans of fantasy should enjoy this. However, please be aware there is a scene with terrible, graphic brutality against women, and other instances hinted at, so if that sort of thing enrages you like it did me, you might want to skip this and save yourself the aggravation.(less)